The best ring lights offer one of the most affordable and effective ways to make your videos look professional. Once the preserve of slick photoshoots and professional video productions, now they're cheap enough to be available to everyone – including amateur YouTubers and avid TikTokers. Many are even specifically designed to be used with an everyday smartphone.
While ring lights used to be powered by large fluorescent bulbs, these days it's little LEDs running the show. This makes them not only more affordable than professional lights, but also more compact. If you're worried about a ring light dominating your space and being impossible to put away, don't be – many of the lights on this list are tiny, but powerful.
Ring lights provide continuous lighting, meaning they're popular among video shooters. If you've spent any time watching content creators on YouTube or TikTok, you've almost certainly seen someone lit by a ring light. This is especially true for make-up and beauty vloggers.
While they can't match the power output of the best flashguns or the best strobes, some ring lights do have flash modes or even High Speed Sync modes, boosting their power by up to 500% (with no recycle time). This makes them useful for photographers as well as video shooters, and if you're someone who dabbles in both worlds, a good ring light can be a very efficient purchase.
Ring lights also have their uses in the new normal world of increased home working, and indeed they are perfect pairings with the best webcams if you're looking to create a visually pleasing video-conferencing setup. You'll be surprised how much nicer you look on meetings if you take the time to light yourself property!
Lastly, if you want to shoot a different kind of close-up, check out our guide to the best ringflash for macro photography.
Best ring lights in 2021
The Razer Ring Light does everything you could ask for. It packs all the power you'd want from a 12-inch USB product, the light quality is excellent and the build quality is superb – especially the bundled tripod, which unlike those included with most ring lights is sturdy and substantial.
Third-party brands are cheaper, mains-powered options are brighter, but this strikes the perfect balance and is a fantastic everyday ring light – and one that's well worthy of the Razer name. If you're in the market for a portable 12-inch ring light for streaming, video conferencing and vlogging, this won't let you down.
At first glance the Lume Cube Wireless Ring Light seems overpriced, compared to other options. However, drill down into what you actually get and it offers good value: not only do you get a brilliant ring light, which can run on mains power or for up to 90 minutes on batteries (which are supplied), an LED readout to monitor your settings, and an immensely useful 6.5ft light stand.
This is our favorite 18-inch ring light. It's ideal for shooting portraiture, filming vlogs and videos, and giving you the flexibility to work wirelessly either on location, in studio or anywhere you might need to move the light around. The strength of the plastic mounting bracket is the only question mark, so if you plan to take a lot of top-down shots for flat lays or unboxings then you might want to try before you buy. For the 90% of people who use ring lights upright, though, look no further.
Many people who are looking for a ring light don't necessarily need loads of fancy bells and whistles. They just want something simple that works, and in that regard, the Neewer 10-inch LED Ring Light is an excellent choice. It's on the smaller side for a ring light, but still a perfectly good size for self-taping, vlogging, TikToks and other quick and easy uses. It plugs in via USB, and comes with a 54-inch tripod, meaning it's very easy to get started the instant you take the Neewer 10-inch LED Ring Light out of its box.
You don't get the sophisticated features of some other ring lights on this list like those from Rotolight, and there are also larger lights available, including from Neewer themselves. But the Neewer 10-inch LED Ring Light is an all-around solid choice that will suit the vast majority of users perfectly, and that's why it nabs our top spot. The bottom line is: if you're looking for a ring light, this will almost certainly fit the bill.
The ESDDI PLV-R432 is a beefy 18-inch ring light that kicks out 48W of power from 432 LEDs. It's big and bright enough to work as a key light for sumptuous portraits with that unique "ring light look", producing soft illumination and circular catchlights. It's also ideal for videos and vlogs, providing useful key or fill to soften shadows and even out lighting when presenting to camera. Its sheer size makes it perfect for beauty and makeup work, too, giving you plenty of room and abundant light.
This kit includes everything you need to get going, with a 6-foot light stand and padded travel case. Prominent dials adjust brightness and temperature, and the light can even rotate 180°, making it useful for shooting flat lays or macro work. Sadly the bundled phone holder isn't terribly sturdy, and you can't mount a camera to the light – so you'll need to set up a separate tripod to use a DSLR or mirrorless body if you're filming yourself.
Note: Be aware that the ESDDI PLV-R432 18-inch Ring Light is hard to get outside of the US, so international users may want to consider some of the other options on our list.
Okay, so the Neo 2 is technically a ring-shaped light – though for most people it will do exactly what they want it to. Since it isn't a truly donut-shaped light source, it won't achieve the same sculpted softness or circular catchlights for portraits. What it will do, however, is deliver a whopping 1,840 lux (a little lower than the claimed 2,000) at a distance of 3 feet, making it an ideal key or fill light for both stills and video (especially when it can be modified with everything from barn doors to softboxes). Powered by six AA batteries, the Neo 2 can also be powered by a mains adaptor for up to 500% more power in flash mode.
The Rotolight RL48-B Stealth was one of our favorite portable ring lights in years past, but disappeared from the market a while ago. Now it's back in an all-in-one kit, which also includes a Rotolight mini tripod, stand adapter, phone clip and accessory bar – making it the perfect partner for a tabletop smartphone setup. While this kit is geared towards phones, the RL-48 is also an ideal on-camera light for DSLRs and mirrorless cameras. The Neo 2 is a bit heavy and unwieldy for the hotshoe, but this smaller model is just the right size (though this kit doesn't include a foot for the shoe), and the hole in the middle is perfect to poke a microphone through!
If bigger is better then Neewer's 20-inch option is the way to go! While it's the largest ring light on offer here, with 44W of dimmable output from 352 LEDs, it doesn't have quite as much power or temperature range as ESDDI's 18-inch 48W model. However, larger light sources are softer – and the Neewer offers the option of battery power in addition to mains, compatible with the versatile NP-F550 / F970 family (two batteries and a charger are included, though you'll lose about 10W of output compared to mains power). Also bundled are a 6'5" light stand, ball head adapter and vertical / horizontal phone holder, wireless remote and carry case. If you're looking for a true ring light with the largest light spread and wire-free shooting, you've found it.
If you're looking to add a splash of color to your images or videos – or if you want a ring light that can double as a cool mood light to perk up a room when not in use – the Smoovie LED Colour Stream will be right up your alley. It features 16 RGB colors and 9 light modes, from pulsing colors to cycling through the spectrum. It also features Natural, Soft and Warm white lighting, which mimics traditional color temperates for use in natural and artificial light conditions. Available in both 6- and 8-inch options to suit your needs, it also comes with a collapsible telescoping tripod and also (at the time of writing) includes a free 3,000 mAh power bank as well.
If the Rotolight Ultimate Vlogging Kit is too pricey, then this tabletop equivalent from ESDDI is a pocket-friendly alternative. Just bear in mind, though, that while it's much less expensive, it's also much less powerful, at just 10W output compared to the equivalent 80W of the Rotolight RL48. That said, it's more powerful than the similar 10-inch model from Neewer (which produces 8W of power), and while not dimmable it has three levels of brightness. The ESDDI 10-inch ring light is Ideal for smartphone shooters, with a two-way grip that holds your handset both horizontally and vertically, along with a Bluetooth remote for stills and video. And since it's USB-powered, you can run it from a power bank and use it anywhere.
Sometimes you only need a little light – and sometimes, you need a literally little light that you can throw in your laptop bag or handbag for when you need illumination on the move. This is where the handy Xinbaohong Clip-On Selfie Light comes into play – a brilliant mini ring light that clips onto anything 18mm or thinner. That means you can attach it to your phone for perfect selfies in a nightclub, or put it on your laptop to give you a key light when you're working on the road and need to dial in from a hotel room or coffee shop. Stick it on your tablet, your monitor, even clip it into the sun visor to give you better light in your car – it's so cheap that you should definitely get one to keep in your bag!
Ring Lights are fantastic but, unless you're sitting at a desk or table, you might struggle to find a surface or enough space to erect a tripod. The Smoovie Flexi Selfie Ring Light solves this problem by providing you with a flexible clip arm, which means that you can mount your light virtually anywhere – the edge of a shelf, a window sill, a radiator, the interior of your car… it goes where tripods can't! The clip also has a second flexible arm that can hold your camera phone, so this can either be used strictly as an adaptable ring light or as a dedicated smartphone setup. The light can be adjusted to three tones of white to match daylight or artificial conditions, and the brightness can be adjusted too.
More buying guides:
The best LED light panels: portable lighting for photography and video
Best video lights: continuous video lighting for vlogging and filmmaking
The best photography lighting kits: for studio, location and video
The best webcams for home working
The best camera for streaming